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Panthers must limit big plays

Chesapeake’s Richard McFarland (79), Chad Meadows (32) and Taylor Banaei (58) combine to make a stop on a Fairland runner. The Panthers play at St. Clairsville on Saturday night in the Div. IV playoffs. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

CHESAPEAKE — Coach Andy Clark isn’t laid back at all this week, but he does want to slow things down.

Actually, the only thing Clark wants to slow down is the explosive offense of the St. Clairsville Red Devils.

St. Clairsville (9-1) is averaging more than 400 yards of total offense and 39.3 points a game.

“They’re pretty impressive,” said Clark who has guided the Panthers to the playoffs in his first season as a head coach.

“They’re pretty athletic. They’re going to make some plays. We just have to slow them down and limit their big plays.”

Quarterback Matt Kinnick — a 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior — is the key to the Red Devils’ offense. During the regular season he completed 117 of 193 passes for 2,373 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was intercepted 10 times.

Kinnick also has 434 yards rushing on 95 carries and three TDs.

“He has an accurate arm. He doesn’t miss,” said Clark. “He can run the ball well, too, but he basically reads the defense and he knows how to find the hot receiver. They run every offensive set there is.”

Running back Jaylon Brown leads the team with 769 yards on 74 carries and he has scored 10 touchdowns, but he suffered a broken collarbone in last week’s win over Union Local and is lost for the playoffs.

Senior Ben Evick (5-7, 155) will take over the running back position after playing as a receiver most of the season. Evick has 149 yards on 45 carries and three TDs to go with 16 receptions for 223 yards and a score.

The Red Devils have a plethora of receivers that includes Evick. Jerrid Marhefka has 27 catches for 658 yards and eight scores, Daniel Monteroso has 18 receptions for 380 yards and six TDs after being injured part of the season, Chase Garan has 14 grabs for 295 yards and two scores, and Michael Ferns has 13 catches for 199 yards while rushing 24 times for 373 yards and four touchdowns.

“It’s hard to focus on just one or two guys,” said Clark.

The offensive line has Cole Stephen (6-0, 200) at center, Anthony Kuhn (6-2, 220) and Joel Giffin (6-3, 225) at the guards, and Tony Parker (6-3, 230) and Corey Ernest (6-2, 265) at the tackles.

The tight end is Jay Gossett (6-0, 170) who has one catch for 8 yards and a touchdown.

The Panthers (7-3) can slow the offense by getting sustained drives against the Red Devils’ defense.

“We’ve got to establish the run and just hide the ball from them,” said Clark.

St. Clairsville’s defense runs a 4-4 look but will switch to a 50 look and even a seven diamond.

Stephen and Ernest are the ends with Derek Shunk (5-9, 180) and Brandon Alexander (5-10, 280) the tackles. The linebackers are Evick, Greg Parker (5-8, 180) and Ferns (6-2, 220).

The secondary has Garan (5-11, 160) and Marhefka (6-0, 160) at the corners along with Monteroso (6-0, 145). Marhefka has seven interceptions and Evick three.

The strong safety is Luke Smith (5-10, 180) and the free safety Corey Kotopka (6-3, 200).

Chesapeake Offense

SE Javon Thompson

LT Brad Pike

Shawn Reynolds

LG T.J. McCoy

C Jacob Wells

RG Taylor Banaei

RT Richard McFarland

TE Tommy Noble

WB Dylan Nichols

QB Austin McMaster

FB Brandon Noble

RB Patrick Hintz

PK Jacob Wells

 

Chesapeake Defense

DE Jacob Wells

DT Brad Pike

DT Richard McFarland

DE Taylor Banaei

OLB Brandon Noble

ILB T.J. McCoy

OLB Chad Meadows

CB Patrick Hintz

CB Javon Thompson

S Austin McMaster

Caleb Lindsey

St. Clairsville Defense

DE Cole Stephen

DT Derek Shunk

DT Brandon Alexander

DE Corey Ernest

LLB Ben Evick

MLB Greg Parker

RLB Michael Ferns

CB Chase Garan

CB Jerrid Marhefka

Don Monteroso

SS Luke Smith

FS Corey Kotopka

 

St. Clairville Offense

TE Jay Gossett

LT Corey Ernest

LG Joel Giffin

C Cole Stephen

RG Anthony Kuhn

RT Tony Parker

WR Jerrid Marhefka

FL Dan Monteroso

WR Chase Garan

QB Matt Kinnick

RB Ben Evick

PK Zach Musselli